Although grape growing in Nova Scotia can be traced back to 1611, eight years after the first known vineyard graced American shores, Nova Scotia’s commercial wine industry had its beginnings with the Domaine de Grand Pré winery, opened in 1978 by Roger Dial, managing director of California’s Davis Bynum Winery. While Ontario was still struggling to find its unique place in the world of wine, Dial was quietly conducting field trials on over 100 grape varieties, hoping to find a suitable marriage of variety and climate.
The traditional “noble” French varieties showed little promise in Nova Scotia at the time. American and French hybrids seemed to show more promise. After much trial and much error, it was found that Seyval Blanc and Marachel Foch were well suited to the region—both French hybrids.
21 Varieties Grown in Nova Scotia: From Hybrids to Noble Varieties
Today 21 varieties are grown in Nova Scotia, including Baco Noir, Cabernet Franc, Cayuga, L’Acadie Blanc, Leon Millot, Marachel Foch, New York Muscat, Seyval Blanc, Vidal Blanc, and even Chardonnay, Riesling, and Pinot Noir.
In 1982 the Grape Growers Association of Nova Scotia was formed and now has more than twenty members. There are presently nine wineries operating in the province, most of them tiny operations when compared to Ontario and British Columbia. But as one Nova Scotia wine enthusiast recalls, “Thirty years ago when you thought about Niagara, you thought of waterfalls. Now you think about wine.” The enthusiastic winegrowers of Nova Scotia are hoping to follow Ontario’s lead in making their peaceful province a wine touring destination.
The Winery Association of Nova Scotia was formed in 2002. They remind us that the wine industry here has “climate and soil conditions that favour unique and distinctive grape varietals, an abundant supply of inexpensive land for potential development, unfettered by urban encroachment and strong transportation links and proximity to the large Eastern USA markets and Europe.” They are hoping that as wine lovers grow tired of drinking the same familiar varieties they might turn to Nova Scotia for something different.
Nova Scotian Wines Win Awards
Among Nova Scotia’s award-winning wines are Rieslings from Gaspereau, Marachel Foch from Jost and Seyval Blanc from Le Domaine de Grand Pré.
About 850 acres are presently under vine in Nova Scotia and the industry would like to double that amount over the next years. To encourage Nova Scotia’s fledgling wine industry, the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation has lowered its tariff by 70% and the Kings County Development Agency is putting together a packet aimed at domestic and foreign investors.
Here’s a video highlighting Nova Scotia’s leading wineries and vineyards: